Sports memorabilia has always had a special place in the hearts of sports fanatics. These game-time artifacts maps our teams’ struggles to win, to become champions, to give us those all-important bragging rights at the office when Brian from the sales department has been running his mouth off about his team being in the midst of a dynasty run.
There’s also no better way to remember, and lord it over Brian from sales, than with the ball that won the game, autographed by whoever threw/caught/kicked/ate that ball. Such relics are placed on desks and fireplace mantels around the world. Unfortunately, millions of other sports-loving fanatics have the same idea.
For instance, remember at the end of game 6 in the 1986 World Series when Mookie Wilson hit a grounder that scored the winning run, keeping the New York Mets alive going into game 7 against the Boston Red Sox? Other sports fans may have another view of the event: a temporary worm-hole appeared in Red sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s glove, causing him to mishandle Mookie Wilson’s base-line dribbler and lose the game, as well as the World Series, for the Red Sox. That ball, signed by Mookie Wilson, is “The Buckner Ball” and has been released for bidding by the public. The going price at the time of this article? $90,000.00.
Who would pay that much for such a complicated piece of history? A proud Mets fan, reveling in the miracle bestowed upon his team? Or a dismal Red Sox Fan, ready to perform voodoo magic on the ball, douse it in acid, and shoot it into the center of the sun?
My money is on the latter, but it also makes me wonder, what other bits of memorabilia are out there for fans on the short end of events like the Buckner Bobble? Today we search for those items, items to help torture ourselves and friends as a magic talisman as we repeat the phrase, “It couldn’t get any worse.” These are gifts for the sports masochist, as well as semi-educated guesses on how much they may cost.
1) Scott Norwood’s Foot
The Buffalo Bills have been through one of the worst strings of greatness in sports history, just behind the Washington Generals, who continually tried and failed to defeat the Harlem Globetrotters in “The Grand Championship Game of the Universe”, or however marketing is billing that game these days. Four years in a row, the Bills claimed the Super Bowl spot for the AFC. All four of those trips ended in disaster.
The beginning of those disasters was literally kick-started wide right off the foot of Bills kicker Scott Norwood in the final seconds of the game with the New York Giants up by one point.
What better way can a tortured Bills fan revel in that miss field goal than with Scott Norwood’s right foot? Just think, you can display it like a prized black bear bust, explaining to visitors that, thanks to you, that foot will never harm another fan’s dreams again. It’s not like Scott really needs it anymore, right?
Estimated Price (current): $90,000,000.00
Estimated Price (Norwood post-mortem): $1,500,000.00
2) Steven Bartman’s Headphones
Steve Bartman, alleged long-time fan of the Chicago Cubs, inexplicably shoved his hands out to catch a foul ball in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS that, if caught by Cubs left-fielder Moises Alou, would have sent the Cubs to the World Series. The event started a chain reaction that left Cubs fans still in championship limbo since 1908.
Many blood-thirsty Cubs fans wanted a relic of that memorable game: Steve Bartman’s head, maybe the hands that shielded Alou from the ball. That’s just ridiculous. A more easily attainable item, both legally and ethically, would be Steve Bartman’s headphones. What better way can that historical moment be remembered than to be in possession of the headphones Bartman was wearing, the headphones that probably distracted him from what was really taking place before him, the headphones that muzzled the shout of, “Get the hell away from the ball, jack-ass!”
Estimated Price (in working condition): $100.00
Estimated Price (with Bartman’s blood after his ears burst from being screamed at by the entire city of Chicago): $35,000.00
3) Trombone from Stanford University’s 1982 Marching Band
In a game of hot potato by players of the UCal Bears that has been nicknamed “The Play”, there were two losers: the Stanford football team, and the Stanford marching band that ran out onto the field. If not for the confusion of an entire marching band beginning to make a wall in front of the end zone, a Stanford player could very well have tackled Kevin Moen, or one of UCal’s laterals may have been flagged, or the idiot trombone player at the goal-line, Gary Tyrrell, could have attempted to tackle Moen instead of getting run over.
So what better way to enshrine that goof for a Stanford alum than ownership of the trombone Gary Tyrrell dropped as he tried to dodge Kevin Moen? That item was the last thing Tyrrell touched before being tromped by Moen’s cleats.
Estimated Price: $7,000.00
Estimated Price (with knowledge of how to play Stanford’s fight song, “Come Join the Band”): $22,000.00
4) Russ Hodges’ Vocal Chords
“The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” has been immortalized in books, videos, and even in a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem, but in the sports world it is about one event: the home-run Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants hit off Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca.
On paper, the game may seem like the climactic end to any playoff pennant race between two rival teams, but the fact that the game was broadcasted on Armed Forces Radio for servicemen in Korea made the phrase much more globally legitimate.
But how can a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers celebrate a hit that they were on the losing end of? Simple: purchase the vocal chords of Russ Hodges, the infamous voice that declared “THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!” over and over again. This way you can be sure that, if the zombie apocalypse ever comes, Russ Hodges won’t rise from the grave, repeating the phrase over and over and over again before scooping out your brain like three pounds of ice cream.
Estimated Price: $9,000,000.00
Estimated Price to have Hodges’ vocal chords replace your own: $70,000.00
5) Jason Giambi’s Used “Cream” Containers
While all of the other items may be based on one historical event, there are times that sports fans must grimace at one historical figure that spans not only seasons of disgrace, but spans multiple teams as well. That figure is Jason Giambi. Through his continuing tenure in Major League Baseball, Jason Giambi has succeeded to dash World Series dreams, first with the Oakland Athletics, then with the New York Yankees.
So how can multiple teams share in the misery of Giambi without creating a bidding war? Simple: collect used containers that Giambi used to hold his performance-enhancing drugs, Tetrahydrogestrinone. There must be plenty, as sports figures were known to keep incriminating evidence out of their garbage cans in case reporters decided to go dumpster diving for a scoop.
Estimated Price (per container): $5.00
Patrick Emmel loves joke gifts, which is why he is contemplating buying a 1986 World Series ball signed by Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson for a friend that is a Red Sox fan. You can see more of his work at www.theineptowl.com or heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.